GNL number 80

a report of doings at meeting #80, Sunday, January 12, 2014
including liturgical items, major themes, and other odds and ends


I write to discover what I think. After all, the bars aren’t open that early.~~~Daniel Boorstin

We write to taste life twice, in the moment, and in retrospect.~~~Anais Nin


We decided to talk first about Writing — Why and When and How We Do It, and close with planning our shared transcription of Anna’s Epic Trip Journal.

Sue opened the conversation by recalling her longtime habit of writing a poem daily, and the way these collected in notebooks and booklets over the years have grown to two shelves, and she’s begun to review and sort them for keeping or discarding. She said she writes everyday “to be anchored;”and gave us several quotes about writing, a fine poem by Tomas Transtomer on “language but no words”, and a link to Dave Bonta’s daily 140-character poem site.

Ann immediately said writing has always been a difficult thing for her that she doesn’t really like to do, probably because of growing up in the shadow of an uncle who was a famous writer, and the need to write correctly, always to very high standards. As she said, she knew she could think her words much more easily. (Knowing her as truly literate, razor-witted, and our 6-wordie master, we hoped she’ll come to feel freer to trust her words to print.)

Anna spoke again of her youthful cross-country scooter trip and reporting about it in her journal—especially about the different attitudes she encountered in the West and South, then how she doesn’t think she wrote much at all either before or after her big journey. But from the excerpts we’d heard here a few years ago, we thought her dad, a newspaper reporter, would have been proud of her. She also referred to her photo-taking in New York City, a great place for candid shooting, and how she was able to be a reporter that way too.

Nancy said she writes notes almost daily, especially email, to family and friends, and for over 50 years has edited one kind of newsletter or another (dating from school paper and then college weekly), and likes doing that. And sometimes songs, or little thank-you notes/ not-poems she calls grazie, or once in awhile, little stories, (as in the Wild Animals of Cobleskill). But mostly she writes pm-notes to herself—mostly questions and (listening for) something like answers, in the interest of survival, and returning home to consciousness from that hasty mindless autopilot.

Gail spoke of her note and letter-writing style (and application-filling) that tends to be unruly; she said she’d sometimes wondered if she didn’t have a mild learning disability for writing, but that if so, it didn’t bother her. She also recalled very difficult writing experiences, such as when she was trying to encourage her daughter, and like Anna, the pleasant one of recording her observations when she and her sister went on trips, as to Alaska. Which also reminded her how she had grown up with a family that loved the outdoors, and lots of nature time to observe.

Cynthia brought an Alice Walker quote that spoke strongly to her. (See AW.) She said she enjoys writing, and like Sue and Ann, has on occasion read us her poems. And as one who also likes to see beauty and make art, she likes to frame her notes/letters in a pleasing way, recalling Jack and his calligraphy. She brought her lovely Syracuse Cultural Workers datebook with its bountiful pictures, poems, and quotes, and said she was going to send them one of her poems. Which reminded us to vow to finally do a field trip to Syracuse and SCW this spring.

Vijaya, again our hostess and generously offering to do that anytime, told a story of inspiration she drew from a recent meal on a family trip. They were being served with such care and grace by the woman attendant, and with such delightfully special bread, that Vijaya was led to express her deep appreciation in spoken and then written words as well. These in turn led to the response of the manager—who happily presented Vijaya with a loaf of that magical bread. And this she shared with us today!

Since we are working on the print version of Anna’s Journal, we decided our offering today needed to go with Cynthia to the fund for copies of that.


I write to give myself strength….I write to be the characters that I am not…. I write to explore the things I’m afraid of.~~~Joss Whedon

A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer; it sings because it has a song.~~~Maya Angelou


Sunday, February 9, 2014 (1030), at Sue’s house, on Quarry Street, Cobleskill. The topic is BALANCE (or Unbalance?).


from Sue:

  • “I do not write every day, I read every day, think every day, work in the garden every day, and recognize in nature the same slow complicity. The same inevitability. The moment will arrive, always it does, it can be predicted but it cannot be demanded. I do not think of this as inspiration. I think of it as readiness. A writer lives in a constant state of readiness.”~~~Jeanette Winterson
  • “How can I know what I think till I see what I say?”~~~E.M. Forster
  • “Bad things don’t happen to writers; it’s all material.”~~~Garrison Keillor
  • “Tired of all who come with words, words but no language
    I went to the snow-covered island.
    The wild does not have words.
    The unwritten pages spread themselves out in all directions!
    I come across the marks of roe-deer’s hooves in the snow.
    Language but no words.”~~~Tomas Transtromer (Earth Prayers)
  • “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”~~~Benjamin Franklin
  • “I learned never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.”~~~Ernest Hemingway
  • “As Thoreau famously said, it doesn’t matter where or how far you go – the farther commonly the worse – the important thing is how alive you are. Writing of every kind is a way to wake oneself up and keep as alive as when one has just fallen in love.”~~~Pico Iyer
  • Link to Dave Bonta’s morning poems, where he posts very short poems about “the view from my front porch every morning in 140 or fewer characters.”

from Cynthia:

  • Writing saved me from the sin and inconvenience of violence.~~~Alice Walker:

from and to Vijaya:

Our thanks for taking and sending all those nice photos of our gorgeous food and selves!


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